DANIEL Biography - Military related figures


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Name: Daniel                                                                           
Daniel is a figure appearing in the Hebrew Bible                                       
and the central protagonist of the Book of Daniel.                                     
The name "Daniel" means "Judged by God". "Dan" = judge, "i" = a suffix                 
conjugating the verb such that its action applies to the speaker, and "el" = God.       
Alternatively, it could mean "The Judge of God" (as analogously "Gabriel" means         
"Man of God" rather than "Overcome by God") or "God is my Judge" (in this case "Dan"   
is treated as a noun with the "i" suffix indicating a first-person possessive).         
The prophet Daniel from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling                           
This section describes Daniel as a historical figure within the setting of the         
original source of Tanakh.                                                             
At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (the kingdom of Israel           
had come to an end nearly a century before at the hands of the Assyrians), or           
immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at the second battle of               
Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (BCE 606), Daniel and         
three other noble youths named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the           
Jewish young nobility carried off to Babylon (probably as hostages to ensure the       
loyalty of Judah's king and advisors), along with some of the vessels of the           
temple. Daniel and his three Jewish companions were subsequently evaluated and         
chosen for their intellect and beauty, to be trained as Chaldeans, who                 
constituted the ranks of the advisors to the Babylonian court. (Daniel 1)               
There Daniel was obliged to enter into the service of the king of Babylon, and         
in accordance with the custom of the age, received the Chaldean name of                 
Belteshazzar, i.e., prince of Bel, or Bel protect the king! His residence in           
Babylon was very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified with a       
mass of mounds called the Kasr, on the right bank of the river. However, Daniel         
and his three companions remained fiercely loyal to their Jewish religious and         
cultural identity, an identity which would sooner or later come into conflict           
with the paganism of the Babylonian court.                                             
Daniel's Answer to the King by Briton Riviare, R.A. (1840-1920), 1890 (Manchester       
City Art Gallery)                                                                       
Daniel's training (Daniel 1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. Daniel         
became distinguished during this period for his piety, and for his strict               
observance of the Torah (Daniel 1:8-16), and gained the confidence and esteem of       
those who were over him.                                                               
At the close of his three years of discipline and training in the royal schools,       
Daniel was distinguished for his knowledge and proficiency in the pagan                 
practices of his day, and was brought out into public life. He soon became known       
for his skill in the interpretation of dreams (Daniel 1:17; Daniel 2:14), and           
rose to the rank of governor of the province of Babylon, and became "chief of           
the governors" (Chald. Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon, after             
passing a dangerous test of the astrologers by the king, which could easily have       
cost Daniel his life. Daniel made known and also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's           
dream; as well as a later dream preceding the king's descent into animal               
behaviour, and many years afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm       
and consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious feast (in which         
Belshazzar and his concubines drank wine out of the royal Jewish ceremonial             
goblets of the Temple), Daniel was called in at the suggestion of the queen-mother     
(perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret the mysterious         
handwriting on the wall. For successfully reading the cryptic handwriting by an         
angel of God, Daniel was rewarded by the Babylonians with a purple robe and             
elevation to the rank of "third ruler" of the kingdom. The place of "second             
ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated with his father, Nabonidus, on the         
throne (Daniel 5:16). Daniel interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was       
Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain" by his own sons, who later fled.           
After the Persian conquest of Babylon, Daniel held the office of the first of           
the "three presidents" of the empire under the reign of the obscure figure of           
Darius the Mede, and was thus practically at the head of state affairs, with the       
ability to influence the prospects of the captive Jews (Daniel 9), whom he had         
at last the happiness of seeing restored to their own land; although he did not         
return with them, but remained still in Babylon.                                       
Daniel's fidelity to God exposed him to persecution by jealous rivals within the       
king's administration. The fact that he had just interpreted the emperors' dream       
had resulted in his promotion and that of his companions. Being favored by the         
Emperor, he was untouchable. His companions were vulnerable to the accusation           
that had them thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship the Babylonian           
king as a god; but they were miraculously saved, and Daniel would years later be       
cast into a den of lions (for continuing to practice his faith in HaShem), but         
was miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree enjoining               
reverence for "the God of Daniel" (Daniel 6:26). He "prospered in the reign of         
Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian," whom he probably greatly               
influenced in the matter of the decree which put an end to the Jewish Captivity         
(BCE 536).                                                                             
Daniel's ministry as a prophet began late in life. Whereas his early exploits           
were a matter of common knowledge within his community, these same events, with         
his pious reputation, serve as the basis for his prophetic ministry. The               
recognition for his prophetic message is that of other prophets like Isaiah,           
Jeremiah and Ezekiel whose backgrounds are the basis for their revelations. The         
time and circumstances of Daniel's death have not been recorded. However, Daniel       
was still alive in the third year of Cyrus according to the Tanakh (Daniel 10:1);       
and he would have been almost 100 years old at that point, having been brought         
to Babylon when he was in his teens, more than 80 years previously. He possibly         
died at Susa in Iran. Tradition holds that his tomb is located in Susa at a site       
known as Shush-e Daniyal. Other locations have been claimed as the site of his         
burial, including Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk, Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt,             
Tarsus and, notably, Samarkand, which claims a tomb of Daniel (see "The Ruins of       
Afrasiab" in the Samarkand article), with some traditions suggesting that his           
remains were removed, perhaps by Tamerlane, from Susa to Samarkand (see, for           
instance, Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, section 153).